Way back before Morgans Bluff we broke part of our rear stay. Yes, of course we had the boat overpowered with full sails in big seas and too much wind. With a little help from our buddy boat and some parts we had we replaced the old "Y" with Endura Braid. The fix was so much stronger than the original we left it until we returned to the Emerald City. I thought about using Hi Tech lines instead of the stainless rope but after weighing all the options and especially durability I kept the stainless but used 316 instead of 304.
Spotted dolphins allways make the day
Once moored in Massalina Bayou I dug out our parts for the rigging rebuild. Not long ago while tied to a dock here in Massalina I rebuilt the Hood roller. At that time I replaced the fore stay with 1/4 inch wire and swagless Hi-MOD fittings from Hyan. Once that was complete I stuffed all the remaining fittings back into a large zip-lock and waited for another day. Seems now I should have done the rear at that time too.
Thanks Rick and Audrey of s/v Naked Lady
for drilling my new toggles to the mast pin size.
I rebuilt the stay in the same design as the previous one. Except, I purchased a triangle plate instead of looping the lower split around a thimble. I also upgraded the toggles at the mast head to match the Hayn fittings. Now upon that wonder known as "Hindsight" I would have put the triangle plate at the mast head and ran two full length rear stays. The cost would have been the same or less due to fewer fittings and smaller wire rope.
Setting the 316 SS wire rope
A little 4200 to keep water out
All tight and squeezed
Excess 4200 cleaned up
New Turnbuckles for the rig adjustment
For those times the boat thinks it is a racer or beats into the wind a tensioner
A fiddle set and more Endura Braid complete the rear stay tensioner
Now that I have crossed the Gulf and have left PC I need to wait for a calm day during the week to do the side stays. Everything is on the boat and ready. I should have done it in the flat water of Massalina.
s/v Mini Pearl stopping in Mad Beach for a quick hello on her way to the Emerald City
One day in Morgans Bluff while waiting on an approaching north wind (hint: don't do that) we set out our Manson and Fortress. After we were "set" we watched Ben and Darren on s/v Liberty set three anchors with an endless supply of rode. They just kept pulling out rode. They even offered us more if we needed it. Okay we now had a case of rode envy. After 3 years living mostly on the hook we felt the need for more line! Why? Beats me. It is more money, more space and more weight. Something has to go overboard... here, kitty, kitty.
I think Syd spent too many nights in a north facing anchorage with sea walls
Once I was in the Emerald City I started the replacement of ALL of our ground tackle. Well almost all... our trusty 35 pound Manson Supreme will live on.
Our 142 feet of 1/4 inch had a terrible issue developing in the exact middle of the length. Seems the extended stay in Boca Ciega rapidly ate away at the chain. Leaving it with flaking links where it sat in the water column. I continued to use the chain keeping tighter than usual so the center section was not loaded until I was back in Boca Ciega. Once there I used the good sections from both ends along with new line and traditional anchors to make a temporary mooring for the next extended stay in the corrosive waters.
Not even cut and the spool of 9/16 3-strand got rained on.
The first project to come in was the 600 foot spool of 9/16 inch New England Ropes Three strand. Followed by only 100 feet of 1/4 inch High Test G43 chain. Off came the first 200 feet of 3-strand to be spliced onto the chain. This was destined to be mated to the New 25 pound Manson Supreme I purchased from a friend for a great savings. Mason rates this setup for a 25-35 foot boat. This is our number two rode. I also purchased two rode bags one small for this set up and a large for the number one.
The first of several splices. Without a windlass there was no need to taper the splice.
It was a lovely sunset while I spliced the two together and marked the line.
Next I cut off another 200 feet of the 9/16 line to go on our Lunch Hook. Oh we are keeping a second item from the first 4 years, our 10 pound Fortress. The Fortress was mated to 20 feet of 1/4 inch High Test G43 and the second cut of 200 feet 3 strand. Fortress rates this for a 33-38 foot boat. THEY think their anchors are way better than reality.
Rode number 2 bagged and ready.
With the first two rodes done it was time to roll off the third 200 feet from the spool. Sitting there in the cockpit the final third looked extremely larger than the previous two cuts. Damn I can't count. Time to recount cut one and two. 200! 200! Damn I really can't count. Let's do it again. 200! 200! Okay time to count the 3rd cut... 287+-! Can I really not count to 200 without loosing track. Somewhere around the 5th time I concede that the spool was actually 687 and not 600! Great but my head hurts now.
The 3rd 200 foot cut dwarfing the first cut and chain.
Later I purchased a length of 5/16 High Test G43 to mate with the tried and true 35 pound Manson Supreme that has held us well over the last 4 years. This is spliced to a 300 foot length of 5/8 NER 3-strand and stands as our number one rode. The standard Keys and Bahama anchorage length is kept in the locker with the final tail of the rode stored in the V-birth in a bag secured to the bulkhead. Manson rates the 35 Supreme up to a 40 foot boat. Yes it is OVERKILL. Yes I sleep better! You never know when the wind will hit 30 knots and a SeaRay is anchored near by or there is a storm brewing.
With the cruising rodes complete. It was time to make a temporary mooring to be used during our time in Boca Ciega this year. We didn't want to use any of our new chain or line! Previous experience taught us that chain becomes unusable after 6 months here in the water column. We utilized the good ends of the previous chain connected to new 3-strand and 26 pound traditional anchors. Only two points compared to the typical 3 point system but we can always add the third with the Mansons in tandem for an approaching storm. With the addition of an oversize swivel to the mooring we no longer do the line twist.
Well... I just realized it has been over a year since the incident in Bimini. Since that time we have made big changes on board s/v Gemini Dreams.
Miss you TinMan
First was the hardest of the changes. My first mate jumped ship. Seems he decided to return to public school. After three solid years of him within 3 feet of me it was a hard adjustment. Actually kind of depressing.
Second which complicated the first even more I returned to the Emerald City once again. I tried my best not to complain about how I feel about the city compared to 30 years ago. Seems the news is doing enough of that for me.
13 taking one last look back as he walks the plank
Third, I made 13 walk the plank. With out the first mate 13 was ever so bored so I found him a new home in St Pete. He can now entertain his new friends.
A new panel awaits time
Fourth is an ongoing battle of time, weather, money and boat projects. Seems when I have time the weather is either wet or cold.
Life is better with softball, love you Boo
I will try to post the projects over the next few months. Once again rambling in an off hand way utilizing TV generational metaphors and esoteric musical content. I have missed posting the blog but for 3 years it was my way to brag about the Fisher King and his excitement for life. Now it will be just the miscellaneous ramblings of a senile old man on a tiny boat trying to live life and catch a few softball games.
We finally made a decision on our indecisive plan for the summer/hurricane season. With so many reasons to stay in Mad Beach it became obvious we needed to venture across the Gulf of Mexico toward the Emerald City.
My favorite part of crossing the Gulf are the spotted dolphins
It took all the way across this time only three hours out of East Pass
The crossing was uneventful except deciding to clean the bottom offshore. In just three weeks anchored in Boca Ciega Bay Gemini Dreams had a new carpet below. With Government cut being so unpredictable we didn't complain when the wind took us eastward to East Pass. After clearing the pass and starting the backtrack on the ICW the wind stiffened to 15-20 on the nose. Even Motoring became a chore so with the help of Active Captain we chose an anchorage to get some rest and wait for the 7am forecast light winds.
Just past 1am the anchor alarm sounded. The wind was a steady 20 plus that soon became gusts to 40 or better. A quick look on the iPhone 's Garmin app showed a hard storm line just the East of us. Luckily the intensity only lasted for an hour and we missed all the torrential rain they were getting just a few miles away.
For all those in Boot Key Harbor...
FWC checking the fish!
We left early the next morning crossing paths with s/v Enterprise,a Newport 28. As they turned to hoist the sails we slipped past. We utilized the dinghy dock in Apalachicola to tie up the big boat and walk two blocks to the gas station. When we returned from the gas station I realized the little red boat belonged to some die hard Boot Key Cruisers on their way home to Alabama for a visit. I shared what information I could about Apalachicola and Panama City before I was off on my way.
s/v Enterprise, the smaller of the two red hulls
As Wettapoo Creek started to show so did the damn flying monkeys. Yellow flies to be exact! First a couple then 4 or 5 at a time. As the creek started to widen into the bay I was continually swarmed. I could no longer count the damn flying basta%$, I mean monkeys! I passed about three marker cans before I realized that was where they were ambushing me from. Finding the most caustic can of spray we had on the boat was the only hindrance to their assault. As we passed a can I waited a few seconds until the lead squadron was visible and then we fogged the rear of the boat. We were able to keep the counts in the hundreds instead of the thousands. (the bites are driving me crazy two days later)
A little boat anchored in Oz at Midnight Thirty, June the 8th. The cruising season is over. We are back on the Emerald Coast.
We just received a call from one of our friends. Kind of a "you left us hanging" nudge.
best sunsets this season
We made it from Rodriguez Key to just south of sister rock with a following wind by 4pm. For hours we had a bright spinnaker slowly gaining on us. Eventually the silhouette of an Island Packet came to be seen. As we passed sister rock I hailed them on channel 16 to instigate a conversation about Sister Creek and possibly taking it this time into Boot Key Harbor. They had never used it either. They were going to the outside anchorage for an early start the next morning. We decided to take the safe route and go around like we normally do. Then as we were due south of Sister Creek we couldn't resist and turned to take the short cut. As we went over the sandbar stretching across the entrance our depth sounder said "0" feet several times and only "0.2" most of the time. We radioed the Island Packet and gave them the info after we were safely within the creek and had several feet under the keel.
Best coral reef, the Out Islands, North of Andros
This was our shortest stop ever in Boot Key. We filled the water and fuel before sunset. Grabbed a bite to eat and crashed for the evening. The next morning we hit Publix for a couple items to get us across Florida Bay. Then we were off heading toward 7 mile bridge in less than 24 hours. This was our best day, afternoon actually, of sailing all season.
Our favorite place in the Keys, Bahia Honda
Best timing but bad focus shot
The next morning the wind had clocked around slightly and we were dead down wind, wing and wing. By mid afternoon the calculations put us arriving at San Carlos Bay anchorage right at sunset and exposed to 20 knts. The seas were building over six feet as the wind continued to increase. With 25 miles to go we bailed out and entered Gordon Pass for the first time. After reading the reviews on Active Captain we chose Naples-3. Once there our now 25 knots was a slight breeze after being filtered by the multimillion dollar homes. By midnight the anchorage was dead calm and the bugs found us. Our first and only bug screen night of the season.
The next day was an easy, peaceful (midweek), trip through the Miserable Mile and beyond. We anchored for the night at Useppa Island.
Best fish. Mahi-Mahi after leaving Morgans Bluff
Hardest picture to get, this year and last year, oh my to try next year
Best smiles and laughs
Best 15 dollars, used kayak on the cruisers net at BKH
We pulled anchor before sunrise and headed north only thinking for a moment about going offshore for this leg. The once again 15-20 kept us inside which worked out rather well. As we rushed to make the Boca Grande bridge opening we blew by (with sails up) another 30 foot sail boat waiting patiently for the opening. As we entered Placidia Harbour we allowed them to motor past us as we de-sailed. Our speeds were matched as we continued on North keeping us rather close. We followed their lead and released the roller furling. We both were able to keep the foresails flying for over 17 miles on the ICW. Yes it would have been rough outside. As we passed Venice they stopped at the Crow's Nest for the night. We on the other hand fell to our weakness of "we must press on". We made Longboat Key with daylight remaining but not very much. For the first time we could not connect to any internet here.
The next morning was a little foggy, seams to be so in this area often. While waiting on the Cortez bridge we did our normal check of the anchorage to see if the local Vega is still anchored here. It was but so was John's Warrem Cat that was anchored in Mad Beach when we left. No time to stay and talk. On to Anna Maria we go.
Best non dolphin
As we waited the 5 minutes for the bridge to open I started to re-evaluated the weather. Over and over we thought about turning back for the day. We thought about going into Anna Maria or even the Manatee River. The dismal gray skies we very, very dark toward St Pete. So impending in the doom were they that I called in an reinitialized my phone so we could use the radar. Seeing the incoming red line of the front we still decided to cross Tampa Bay anyway. We should be near the Maximo Park anchorage by the time the brunt of it hits.
About 2.5 miles from Maximo the horizontal rain hit as we motored up the sunshine channel. Already soaked by the rain, even with a jacket, we decided to turn left as we crossed the ICW. As we approached structure E bridge they opened for a barge. We tried to sneak through before they closed it (yes we radioed in and they knew) but at the moment we came even to the bridge fenders the outboard lost drive!
Best bus ride with an outboard
Best conch day, North Bimini flats
Ayrton's best lobster
Best snapper, schoolmaster
Best cave, Thunderball Grotto
We quickly found out the over engineered safety precautions on the Honda meant we had no drive with a broken throttle cable. Looking over the situation in the cold rain provided no immediate "alternate engineering options". Plan B meant swapping the main motor for the dinghy motor to continue on. Somewhere during this I was reminded I was a little short on the fingers. The little dinghy motor puttered on making it to Mad Beach around 3pm.
Gemini Dreams spent two nights tied to the floating dock at McDonalds while we caught up with the other half of our family. Ayrton spending time with his mom and sister while I returned to the boat each night. When I went to anchor out the little mercury wouldn't start so she spent a third night at the dock. The next morning I drained the fuel and changed the spark plug with success.
I motored Gemini Dreams over to the anchorage setting only the Fortress. Then it was time to get back up on the horse again. Yes this was the third time the dinghy was lowered into the water from the foredeck since the accident but it was the first time by myself. All went well even transferring the motor from Gemini Dreams onto the dinghy while favoring my hand. Now the only problem was the motor wouldn't start. Seems the water was in the one gallon container not the motor, at least not until I poured it in there repeatedly. Time to repeat the procedure once again.
James Bond night
Now we sit here in Boca Ciega trying to decide if we are clicking our heals 3 times to return to the Emerald City or staying here in Mad Beach. Seems like we have been cursed since that night under the Blood Red Moon.